Health Action in Crises - Highlights No. 209, 19 - 25 May 2008

from World Health Organization
Published on 12 Jun 2008 View Original
Each week, the World Health Organization Health Action in Crises in Geneva produces information highlights on critical health-related activities in countries where there are humanitarian crises. Drawing on the various WHO programmes, contributions cover activities from field and country offices and the support provided by WHO regional offices and headquarters. The mandate of the WHO departments specifically concerned with Emergency and Humanitarian Action in Crises is to increase the effectiveness of the WHO contribution to crisis preparedness and response, transition and recovery. This note, which is not exhaustive, is designed for internal use and does not reflect any official position of the WHO Secretariat.


Assessments and Events

Up to 2.4 million people have been severely affected but relief has so far reached only about 25% of the people in need. Latest official figures report 77 738 deaths and another 55 917 missing. Another 19 359 have been injured.

In the worst affected areas, up to 90% of health facilities are lost and access to supplies and health care is disrupted in many parts of the country.

Medicines, safe drinking water, adequate sanitation facilities, proper shelter, vaccinations and safe food are needed to lessen to risk for disease among survivors.

There is no report of outbreak. However, cases of severe diarrhoea and malaria, both endemic in the country, have already been reported. The numbers could increase dramatically within the next 4-5 weeks and could affect the nutritional status of affected populations. Authorities are using cholera treatment protocols to respond to all severe diarrhoeal cases.

Many survivors may also require psychosocial support to deal with the mental trauma of the cyclone and its aftermath.


WHO, Health Cluster partners as well as Italy and Norway have provided more than 350 metric tonnes of medical supplies. WHO is intensifying surveillance to prevent outbreaks of communicable diseases, including water- and vector-borne diseases such as dysentery, cholera, malaria and dengue. National staff are delivering these supplies directly to the township hospitals.

WHO has provided 13 000 insecticide-treated bed nets to help prevent outbreaks and another 20 000 will be dispatched shortly. Fogging machines are being used to spray temporary shelters in affected townships.

WHO provided to the MoH and Health Cluster partners guidelines on the management of diarrhoeal diseases, dengue, leptospirosis and snakebites, as well as on the management of dead bodies, risk assessment of communicable diseases and intersectoral rapid assessments.

Four additional WHO international staff have been granted a visa.

WHO continues to advocate stronger support for the health sector. As of 18 May, US$ 6.2 million have been mobilized, including US$ 1.88 million under the CERF Rapid Response window for WHO in partnership with NGOs. Besides Norway, WHO has received donations from Australia, Denmark, Monaco, Romania and the United Kingdom.